Lijiang Old Town, Getting Lost and not finding anything on the map
The title says it all.
All day we wandered around old town. There are all sorts of different things to see in town from temples to important houses and a few other things in between. We couldn’t find any of them! The map we were using is the free one provided when you buy your tickets. It is completely useless. Worse than useless as the streets don’t exist, you can’t align yourself with landmarks and when you are in the right place you don’t have the attraction listed! It was very frustrating. There are street signs that guide you in the direction you want, but they are only a guide, as they disappear the closer you get to where you are going! Seriously, 10 streets away they are on every corner, 5 streets away they start to thin out, and the last couple of streets there is nothing indicating the thing you want to see (but they all list things 10 streets away!)
It was with this frustrating the hell out of us as we walked around. We did find some of the places. The overlook of the old town (that has now been turned into a restaurant that you have to pay to go and have a look from the balcony). A teachers residence, apparently from an important family that dedicated his life to education and betterment of people (from what we could tell, ethics played an important role in his curriculum), and a few other places.
Our moods improved dramatically when we decided not to look for specific things and just wander around the old town picking different streets that we hadn’t done. There was a fantastic coffee house on one of the canals that did great coffee with these amazing coated roasted almonds (we found these almonds for sale in a different town later on, and discovered that we probably ate more almonds than the cost of the coffee!), and just generally enjoyed the place.
Travel called though, and at some point we decided to get our tickets to go to Tiger Leaping Gorge. Online there appeared to be only one place to buy the tickets and that was from an International Youth Hostel, so we walked over to that side of the city and went in search. It was easy to find, and the woman inside was fantastic. Within a short time we had our tickets, then we started talking. It was quiet there at the time, and she was happy to talk to us. On talking about the town and map we had, she burst out laughing. She knew the map and agreed that it was pathetic. She provided us with her map that was a lot more detailed and accurate (a bit late, as we leave first thing in the morning and it is late afternoon now, but a nice gesture) as well as ideas on the countryside. I love the people we are staying with, as they are the kindest and friendliest people with a great place to stay, but this also seemed as if it would be a good place to stay as well!
On saying goodbye, we headed out. A quick walk around new town to get a feel for it, as well as seeing where we had to go to catch the bus in the morning and back to the hotel. New town is basically indistinguishable to any other part of China, although the food is cheaper and better than old town.
All in all a frustrating morning followed by a pleasant afternoon.